Following the success of the Tomb Raider remaster in early 2014, Square Enix announced that Sleeping Dogs would also be receiving the next-gen treatment in the form of the Definitive Edition. The Hong Kong-based Grand Theft Auto clone proved to be one of the surprise hits of 2012, but can you teach an old dog new tricks?
In Sleeping Dogs, players take on the role of Wei Shen, a former San Francisco police officer who was transferred to the Hong Kong Police Force. His task: to infiltrate and destroy a Triad organisation known as the Sun On Yee. Wei Shen must maintain the balance between completing his police mission, whilst also committing crimes to prove himself to the Triads. The conflicting sides make for a highly enticing campaign, which is greatly assisted by some incredibly strong characters and the constant twists and turns all the way through.
In addition to the campaign are the traditional open-world sandbox offerings of side missions, mini-games and hidden collectibles. These include racing through the streets of Hong Kong, helping police to fight crime and obtaining health shrines which have been scattered throughout the city.
If that wasn’t enough, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition also includes two side missions: Year of the Snake and Nightmare in North Point. The former takes place directly after the original story and sees Wei Shen resuming normal police work, while the latter is an underwhelming horror-themed game mode in which players fight off zombies. All the content combined provides a dense gameplay experience, which will keep gamers occupied for some time.
Whereas the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row heavily rely on weapons for combat, Sleeping Dogs predominantly consists of hand-to-hand combat. This has been well executed, with Wei Shen being able to perform a range of combos and powerful counter attacks. While the combat may not be as smooth-flowing as the likes of Assassin’s Creed and the Batman: Arkham series, the interactive environments is a huge redeeming factor.
During combat, Wei Shen is able to eliminate enemies by using elements of the environment. Such interactions include dumping an enemy into a bin, throwing them face first into a vending machine and closing a shop’s shutter over their head. Such moments prove oddly satisfying and have been extremely well implemented.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition boasts a host of graphical upgrades over the original version, with Hong Kong being brilliantly captured in 1080p. Not to mention that the processing power of the Xbox One allows for increased hustle and bustle, with more pedestrians on the streets and more cars on the road.
The audio has also been overhauled with huge improvements to the dialogue and sound effects. This is largely down to the star-studded line-up, which includes Emma Stone (as an American tourist named Amanda Cartwright), Tom Wilkinson (Superintendent Pendrew) and Lucy Liu (troubled pop star Vivienne Lu).
Despite receiving a makeover, the Definitive Edition still contains a number of issues. The inconsistent framerate can be distracting at times and the bugs that plagued the original still remain. The latter can prove particularly problematic, often forcing players to replay large parts of missions.
As the saying goes, every dog has its day. Sleeping Dogs had its day in 2012 and the need for a remaster is certainly questionable. The new lick of paint may have the wow factor but the lack of any new content and the failure to iron out the bugs makes the Definitive Edition feel like more of a cash-in than a genuine attempt at porting the title to the Xbox One. Nevertheless, the fact still remains that Sleeping Dogs is a fantastic title that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In summary: if you have already played through Sleeping Dogs and its downloadable content, it’s difficult to recommend another visit to Hong Kong. On the other hand, if you missed out on the title the first time round, the Definitive Edition is certainly worth your time and money.